Browsing "fitness"
Nov 24, 2013 - fitness    No Comments

Turkey Trot, 2013

I did the Turkey Trot last year, and after the hottest race of 2013 being the other 3 miler of the year, the Race for GLS, I HAD been looking forward to having better running weather this year to see how I could do. Instead, this ended up being the COLDEST race I’ve ever done. The temp was 23 degrees. Winds of 23mph and gusts of 40-45mph which is why the whole area was under a wind advisory. Those two combined made a “feels like” temp of around, oh, 7 degrees. SEVEN. Not missing a digit there, it was frigid. I was really NOT looking forward to racing in those temps, but one of my friends knew I was registered, and when we chatted about it on Facebook, honestly, that’s what made me show up. It’s crazy how just knowing someone will be expecting you can affect things like that! (It works for me with the gym, too.)

So, knowing it was colder than cold, I did what they always say NOT to do and changed up my running clothes. Instead of the Frosty tights and coldgear shirt, I first put on my polypro base layers that I use for skiing, THEN the coldgear shirt and tights, and THEN on top of that, a fleece that zips. I wanted that mostly for the pockets, because the cold air can be hard on my asthma, and I wanted my inhaler near. Then a wool buff to pull up over my face to warm my breath, a fleece hat pulled down over my headphones (which are padded, over the ear kind, and work like earmuffs in weather like this) and my cheapie magic gloves. Instead of running socks, I wore my thickest smartwools. Even then, my toes were the coldest.

When I headed out to the start line, the kids were all returning from the fun run, which is a mile, and were sobbing. “Mommy, I’m so c-c-c-cold!” That did not make me feel better. But, by that point I had the timer tags attached to my shoes, my bib pinned on, and, well, I would’ve felt really dumb bailing at that point. At the start, I ran into another friend, whose daughter had braved the kids run. We laughed as we looked at the crowd, all of us bobbing as we tried to stay warm by jumping up and down. The gun fired, and we were off.

I ran the entire first mile, which was pretty awesome, and I ran it fairly fast, for me, especially considering how freaking cold I was, and that my toes had been numb, but were getting hot from the blood returning. I took a little walk break and kept going, and as I ran to the turnaround — it’s an out and back course — I could see the faster runners returning and could just tell that the return was going to be a headwind. I even saw a spectator with a baby stroller, walking backwards to keep the wind at their backs. That was… telling. After I turned around, it was ROUGH. The wind was so sharp that it was literally taking my breath away, and I alternated between breathing through the wool, and having to turn my head to the side to be able to draw a breath. A ‘real runner’ was pacing a friend and he said it was like “running in a pool.” It was really, really windy. At mile 2, I just kept thinking “finish to be done, finish to be done” but there was way more walking than I expected, although I didn’t need to use my inhaler, I didn’t want to get to that point.

This fall has been rough for my running, our family has had the Longest Cold Ever (which is apparently the 2013 version, as lots of people NOT living in my house have reported the same, this fall’s cold is a lingerer) and now that I’ve moved into the gym and am using the treadmill, well, I never like that. (Nerd alert: I always feel like any run I can’t record on a device “counts less.” My garmin is GPS only and I put my phone in the cupholder of the ‘mill, so I just end up staring at the display, which is TERRIBLE for me. I digress.) I also tweaked my back doing a planks challenge, and have just felt… meh… for most of the fall. But, this is why I register for races, knowing there is one means I DO go on the treadmill, even though I hate it, etc.

So, like the Race for GLS, I was just running to finish because of the weather conditions. And I ended up setting yet another PR — 37:23. (6 seconds better than the GLS race and more than 2 minutes better than this same race last year, and that race was PERFECT conditions! I just wonder what it would have been like if the years were reversed…)

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When I finished, I saw my friend Sarah and let her know that she was the biggest reason I showed up today – it makes such a difference to have someone expecting you, so I thanked her for that, and her dad got a lovely photo of us. I felt like I had a raging ice cream headache, so I hung out in the gym for the drawings — when you finish, you turn in your bag tag and they drew for a ton of prizes, giftcards, etc, and the grand prize is one dollar from each registration is a cash prize. I didn’t win (but I did learn you must be present to win, so that’s good intel) and the time sheets came out and had every page except for the one with ME on it, so I went home and was glad to snuggle down into the couch with a cup of coffee.

The thing that I am continuously amazed by is that, even when I figure the race is my WORST EVER and I’m just pushing out out of spite/pride, I am STILL PR’ing my races! Today’s was SO MISERABLE, but more than 2 minutes faster than last year. That’s part of why I keep registering for races, it helps me see that my baseline fitness level is steadily improving, even when I feel sick or tired or am running against a 23mph headwind, I am still getting fitter and faster. And I am certainly not FAST! I am always at the back of the finishers (there were 12 pages of results, and I would’ve been on page 10, for instance), but I am still pushing myself to do better, even when I think I’m phoning it in.

Oct 21, 2013 - fitness    3 Comments

Freaky 5k 2013

Once again, I ran the Hardy Girls, Healthy Women Freaky 5k this year. I registered a while ago, and then have spent much of October feeling crummy. Allergies, a cold, etc, just crummy, and have hardly even run because of it. But, I knew I’d go to the race no matter what, because a) I’d registered and paid b) my friend was going to be there, too and c) Ingrid was signed up for the kids fun run — her first ‘race.’ I even told my friend on Friday that I was feeling bummed that I couldn’t compete with my past times, because of the general malaise, and that my sole goal was just to finish and call it a day.

Ingrid’s race wasn’t timed, and it was inside, but she was really proud of how fast she ran and I was really proud that she did it at all, as she can be quite shy in new situations.

Ingrid start line


You can also read about the race (and see Ingrid again in the photo gallery — and if you look closely, you’ll see her sister and dad and our friends as blurs in the background) at the KJOnline: Waterville fun run fights negative sexuality.

After Ingrid’s race and the costume contest, it was time for the actual 5k, and I lined up and ran when they said go and listened to my music and just headed out, with zero expectations, just hoping to finish. It was perfect running weather, and  when I headed up the hill (this course ends on this HORRIBLE HILL) I was feeling prickly (could’ve been better hydrated) and I had to pee SO BAD that running was killing me. But Tami led the girls down to run with me, and I was fast-walking and making sure Willa didn’t run into traffic (it’s not a closed course) and was just DONE with the race so I ran up and across the finish line and honestly didn’t even check the clock (I really had to go.)



So, off I went, and my watch had a weird time – it showed the distance as 3.08 and my ‘moving time as 36:14, and my total time as 37:35, which is all fine, and still better than last year, but then when I looked up my official time — well, I really can’t believe it, and I still don’t believe it but Tami told me to own it and believe it, but my official time was 35:39. Which would be not only 4 minutes better than last year, but a PR all on its own. So much for phoning it in.

In 2011, my time was 43:12   and in 2012, it was 39:47. Now I almost feel like I should set a goal of 31:30 for 2014!


Aug 23, 2013 - fitness    No Comments

Top 10 Tips for New Runners

1) Buy good shoes. You really should get yourself some good shoes – not the 3 year old ones in the back of the closet, or some you buy online because they are your favorite color. Invest the $100-ish bucks on real running shoes. A running store is a great place to get fitted (as opposed to trying to wing it in Famous Footwear) and in Maine, the gold standard is the Maine Running Company, but if you can’t get down there, Epic Sports is a good place, too, and I think Lamey-Wellehan can fit you as well.

2) Wear the right clothes. They don’t need to be fancy, but a wicking top (NOT COTTON) is a good thing to have. Cotton holds sweat, and if you are overweight and starting, it’s one of the things that would make me self-conscious about it. Plus, gross, you’re running in a wet shirt. I get most of my wicking clothes at Target or Kohl’s, and shirts are usually around $12-15. For pants, I started in some basic non-cotton long fitness pants. But, I have found that more fitted tights feel better, and Old Navy has some nice capri tights for under $25. I have gotten Under Armour on clearance on Amazon for winter running, too. Socks – again, not cotton. The socks I have are varied – I have some Smartwool PhD, Balega, and Darn Tough. They are all fine, I don’t have specific preference except that I like a higher ankle in cold weather and a lower one in hot weather. If you’re a lady, get a good bra. I use Moving Comfort and like it a lot, and prefer the kind with the hooks and back close that doesn’t require an over-the-head wrestling match. I run early, I don’t have time to fight with a bra at 5 am.

3) Follow a plan. Couch to 5k is a great plan to get started. It mixes walking and running, and is very doable. If you have a smartphone, there are apps specifically for the C25K plan, or you can use a general running app and plug in the workouts yourself. I started with a dedicated app, and then moved to using iSmoothRun (which I loooove as a running app.) If you don’t have a smartphone, but do have an ipod, there are podcasts that you can download that are music tracks with the cues for running and walking.

4) No one is watching you. They aren’t. Cars may pass you, but THEY PASS YOU. Same with other runners. C25K programs are so popular now, I don’t think anyone blinks if they see someone running, slow to a walk, or vice versa. And really, if you are considering running, when you encounter a runner on the road – especially a “nontraditional” runner, what do YOU do? Do you throw things at them or point and laugh, or do what I did and wonder “man, I wish I was strong enough to do that….”

5) Do what you can. Maybe the C25K workout is something you knock out of the park on the first pass, or maybe some weeks are harder than others. Maybe you don’t have enough time to do the whole thing – do a mile. Do 20 minutes. Do anything. Again, the only person that knows how long you’ve been out there or how far you’ve gone is probably YOU.

6) Pick a race and set your goal. I love racing because it gives me a goal to work towards. I’ve written about how I choose races, and now that I’ve done several, I can assure you that my formula works. In my section of the pack, it’s totally common to see people take walk breaks or be moving slowly. And the people who are FAST!? They can’t see you, they are ahead of you! As the shuttle driver to the B2B start line said “My advice: keep the Kenyans in front of you!” (And, okay, some of the elites ran the course backwards and passed me as I was still miles from the finish, but again, they PASSED me. Not ONCE has a “real runner” stopped, pointed, laughed, tripped me, scowled, or asked “why are YOU here?”)

7) Track your runs. I use my app (iSmoothRun) and I also now use a Garmin, the FR10 which is the cheapest and most basic model. I like using both, for a variety of reasons, but it’s nice to see my times in a line, and to see how my times improve.

8) Find inspiration. I am a big fan of blogs and social media, and there are some great running blogs out there, but one of my favorites is Katie at She began as a ‘nontraditonal’ runner, and if she ran by me and I didn’t know her story, I’d probably have some of that anxiety of “she’s judging me, I’m too slow, I’m not a ‘real runner'” stuff going on. So, when I see real runners out there, I try to flip it around – for all I know, their journey started like Katie’s did! Or the Penguin Chronicles, by John Bingham, who also wrote An Accidental Athlete and The Courage to Start. 

9) Be inspiring. I share my running story because I am NOT a traditional runner. And I have had SO MANY PEOPLE tell me, either on twitter or facebook or my blog or by email or in person “Hey, I saw you’ve been doing C25k/running/doing races so I decided to try, thanks!” and I cannot even tell you how happy that makes me. I am not fast, and I doubt I ever will be. But I am steady in my pursuit of being a better me, and part of that is running, and if other people decide to try being better thems by giving running a try, that’s incredible.

10) Let yourself have fun. It can be SO MUCH FUN. Look at this photo! Seriously. Sometimes my runs feel sloggy and gross and blah, and sometimes I am smiling like an idiot, even when there’s no cameras around. (I still remember the beauty of running this particular day.) ESPECIALLY for an “accidental athlete.” I never did a single sport in high school, aside from being the manager of many teams so I could go on bus trips. I did drama and spelling bees. I wish I’d known then what I was missing, and I wish I’d started before my mid-30s. But I am SO GLAD I started in my mid-30s, and didn’t decide it was too late. Seriously, I have asthma, I smoked for a decade (and have been smoke free for over a decade) and am overweight (still overweight, less than when I started, though) and have had two kids and walk like a duck and have the coordination of a drunk baby, but I can do this and have FUN. If I can, you can.


Aug 4, 2013 - fitness    2 Comments

Beach to Beacon 10k

Today was the Beach to Beacon 10k, and it was an awesome day.

First: one of my goals this year was to run a 10k. I thought about registering for Beach to Beacon, but when the registration opened for that, I was at Sugarloaf, and it sold out in record time – 4 minutes. So, I figured I’d look for a different race to meet the 10k goal. But then one of my friends posted that she was looking for people to form a ‘team,’ (in quotes because it was in name only) to enter into the lottery, because apparently team lottery odds are better than individual odds. After asking a few questions, I decided, why not, I’ll donate the $5 lottery fee and if I don’t get in, oh well, and if I DO get in, then it was meant to be. I even posted it in our Facebook conversation:



So, a few weeks later, the universe decided when our lottery number was drawn. Oh. Em. Gee.

I’ve spent the summer  with it hanging over my head. I’ve run 6 and 7 miles (as part of my OTHER goal, which is to have a long run that equals the months number, so, 5 in May, 6 in June, etc), so I knew I could DO it, but I was mostly freaking out about weather. Last year it was CRAZY hot, and I do NOT do well with heat. But, I knew I could cover the distance, even if it was super wicked slow. But then the reports from the Old Port Half, just a few weeks ago, had me REALLY freaked out. My friends that ran it had stories to tell, and it was freaking me out. One thing that happened at Old Port was that they ran out of water. (RAN. OUT. OF. WATER.) To prepare for that (and I’d heard nothing but awesome about the B2B, but the Old Port horror stories were really messing with me), I bought a handheld water bottle, and ran with it a few times to get used to it. I figured if I brought my own water, it would be good peace of mind. (I bought the Amphipod 12oz Thermalite handheld, from Running Warehouse, and it was perfect.) I did 7  miles on Sunday (my July long goal run) with it, and it was great. And the 7 miles I did I looped back to my house to pee and refill water, so that it would be like a race, with pit stops, etc. I survived, and my 10k time, like my June run (which went over 6.5 miles) was about 1:20. Slow as molasses, but doable, so that was my goal for B2B, after the overall goal of, you know, finishing. DFL>DNF>DNS, of course. (For the unfamiliar, that phrase means “Dead Freaking Last is better than Did Not Finish is better than Did Not Start.”) I was obsessing over weather, but it was starting to look like it might just be okay…..

Friday, I drove down to Portland where I would be staying with my friends Tami and Aaron. Tami was running the race, too, and she had already been to the expo but offered to go with me (and drive!) on Friday. The Expo was great – easy to park and find my info (and according to Tami, it was a lot better on Friday than it had been on Thursday), and I got my t-shirt and walked around, and bought a few headbands from Chica Bands. I also was really excited to see a Be the Match table, and I am now registered (or on my way to be registered) in the bone marrow registry. The only bummer of the Expo was that they were out of the B2B10k car magnets, which I would have TOTALLY put on my car for the drive home, because this race was that big of a deal to me. We then went down to the finish line, at Portland Head Light, which, even though I was born in Maine and have lived 37 of my 38 years here, I had never been to. (I’ve been to FORT KENT way more, and that’s a place most Mainers never see.) Tami pointed out the “if our phones die, we meet there” location, and I got pretty excited to imagine the finish line.After that,  we met Aaron for dinner at the Blue Burrito in Westbrook, which had an amazing menu, but I couldn’t realistically eat mexican food based on pulled pork for a pre-race dinner. Instead, I had scarfed down a salmon and pasta dish that was excellent. Back at Tami and Aaron’s, we set our alarms for Really Freaking Early, and turned in.



I was up by 5, getting dressed and getting my bib pinned on, and we had a cup of coffee and an english muffin with peanut butter. I grabbed a banana for later, since we would hopefully be arriving well ahead of the start time. We made our way to Cape Elizabeth High School easily, parked, and hopped on a shuttle. We were dropped at the start line around 6:30 and the bus driver was funny “enjoy the next 1.5 hours, and the best race strategy is to keep the Kenyans in front of you.” The start area was great – they had coffee, bananas, orange wedges, gatorade and water – and of course porta potties. We were there so early that it was really not chaotic at all, and Tami’s mantra had been “if we can get to the start, we’ll get to the finish” because she’d heard stories about getting-to-start difficulties from others. So, we were at the start, early, yes, but we were there and there was only one way back – run to the end. We walked up to the start line and took some photos, and then waited back past the 10:00 mile pace sign (the slowest pace posted) for the race to start. Tami is way faster than me, but since it was chip timed, it didn’t matter – we’d cross the mat and run our own race from there, and it was really nice to have someone to hang out with until then. I also saw several other running friends (including the one who convinced me to join her lottery team) and it was a good energy.

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So, pretty soon, it was time to start. Wheelchairs went first, and then 17 or so minutes later, the gun went off. But being at the waaaaay back of the pack, it was almost 10 minutes before we crossed the start. I had to wake up my Garmin twice I think, while I was inching forward. But then… there was the start line, and off we went!

I had started my iSmoothRun app while waiting in line, and had started my running playlist on shuffle, but hadn’t put on my headphones until I was almost at the start. As I crossed the finish line, just about the best song that could have come on, did. It’s a song that was in one of my Body Pump classes “Glad You Came” by the Wanted, and just has a good energy, but the opening lyrics seemed especially profound as I crossed the start:

The sun goes down
The stars come out
And all that counts
Is here and now
My universe will never be the same
I’m glad you came

I mean, the rest of the song sounds like it’s about someone passing roofies, but that lyric, followed by the tempo of the song, was just perfect. Here I was! At Beach to Beacon! And it wasn’t hot, it was overcast and NOT HOT and, I was running the 10k I had set as a goal.

For the race itself – the 2nd mile was the worst. At brunch after, I was telling Tami that, that the 2nd mile I thought “oh nooo, what have I DONE?” so when I got home and plugged in my Garmin, it was interesting to see that that was my slowest mile. I don’t know why it sucked — maybe I started too fast (but Garmin doesn’t say that) or just? who knows. Anyway, after that I did much better. I found that I will go out of my way to high five any kid, and that if I am going to high five a kid,  I must be running. (So, if Ihad a course lined with 5 year olds extending their hands, I’d PR every time, basically….) I didn’t take water at the stops – I had mixed some nuun into my amphipod and filled it halfway and frozen it the night before, and then I added fresh cold water in the morning, and that was holding me) but when I hit mile 4, I decided to take a pee break. I’m not sure how much my time would be different if I hadn’t – when I look at my Garmin stats, I clearly got a boost after the break – but I had to wait for two people to finish (including one who cut in front of me. I’ll just hope her needs were greater than mine.) I had clearly hydrated VERY well in prep for the race, and that was probably the unexpected low point – the unit was not level so I was listing and it was hot and I was almost dizzy, but man, I was NOT going to end up not finishing by passing out in the portapotty! (Not that I thought that I was going to pass out – it was just a weird vertigo-y moment and as soon as I was out, and moving, it was fine.)

Here’s a photo by Maine Running Photos (which, thanks for the CC license, MRP!) I’m totally smiling because hello, I just passed mile 5 and I am TOTALLY going to finish the Beach to Beacon. Also, I saw the guy and figured I should smile. But it wasn’t fake! (There are several more photos here, but I haven’t purchased them. But I almost look like a Real Runner in them!)




Mile 5 is uphill for most of it, but it reminded me of the GLS run, running upstream, but then you see the course inside the park and realize the finish is right there. I ran the fastest and the best in the park – seriously, if I could run like THAT every day, I would feel great. I even ran up the steep uphill, and then it was downhill from there. It was so. awesome. I finished and as I slowed to a walk, I pulled out my phone to stop my app and music, and saw that Dave had texted. He’d found a live cam of the finish line, and he and the girls were watching for me — and as it turns out, this is where wearing my Team Sparkle skirt (which I was on the fence about but obviously decided to wear) came in really handy – they saw the skirt and knew it must be me. He and the girls cheered and clapped for me back home, and I am so glad he did that – a big motivation for me to do this running thing is to set a good example for them. So, I finished, figured out where Tami was, and Aaron had parked only about a mile from the park, so we grabbed our freebies and had some snacks and walked back to the car, and he drove us back to the high school for my car. The lines for the shuttles looked crazy long, so we were wondering how the shuttle situation was later in the morning, since we were there so early.



There’s my splits – you can see my mile 2 “OMG, what have I done” and my finish line “OMG, I HAVE DONE IT!” speeds. And since it was my first, I was okay with any time. It’s a baseline to improve upon! I know that I was nervous about my first 5k, and now feel like I could do one at any moment, regardless of weather, and I would love to get to that place with a 10k. I am definitely, totally, going to try to get in to the 2014 Beach to Beacon, too. It was THAT GOOD. Near the end, there’s a part where you are running RIGHT NEXT to the ocean, and it was gorgeous, and all I could think was “Oh my god, I GET TO DO THIS. AND LIVE HERE.” It was an amazing moment.

The only thing I was bummed about was that there were no medals, and we thought there would be. I want a medal! Which is why I’ve decided to train for the Sugarloaf 15k in May.



Jul 8, 2013 - fitness    No Comments

Race for Grand Lake Stream

A new race report!

I’ve been running all along, and just haven’t blogged about it much. But I’ve been keeping to my 2013 goal of running the month’s number as a distance (4 in April, 5 in May, 6 in June, etc), and this weekend I participated in the 3 mile Race for Grand Lake Stream. It was a fun race and one I will definitely do again. It supports the Downeast Lakes Land Trust (which is a pretty special organization) and had the best setup ever. The town’s schoolbus and driver drove us to Big Lake Landing, where we walked a little bit into the camp road at the end (which is dirt) and where, waiting for us, was literally a line drawn in the dirt for the start line. The bus driver yelled “ready, set, go!” and started his stopwatch, and we were off, and then he drove back to town to the finish line, with the stopwatch, which was then used to record our times. No chips, balloon arches, etc – just a simple road race.

It was SO. HOT. And because of that, I wasn’t really pushing myself too hard, because the heat just wrecks me, even when I’m not running (which is what I am fearing about B2B next month.) I just tried to be slow and steady. I was leapfrogging a girl who was younger than me, and telling her the mile markers (yay for my Garmin! I love that thing…) and the best pass I made was at 2 miles when I managed to pass…. an elderly man with a cane, who was walking. I am not. even. kidding. But it was just sooooo hot. When I did my 6.7 run the weekend before, I went straight to the lake and jumped in, running clothes and all, to cool off, and I wanted to do the same after this race, but Dave had the girls at the park and with him, the keys, so I had to track that down and go home and just take a cold shower because, seriously, SO HOT. So I was feeling kind of crappy about the run, and had hoped to do better, but then I looked at my time – by my Garmin it was 36:48 (and on the results page – where, I had to laugh, they spelled my name wrong, of all the places I thought would know how to spell Schaefer, it was the DLLT – I am listed as 37:29). Which is still super slow, but the OTHER 3 mile race I’ve done is the Turkey Trot, I did in 39:27 – so basically, almost a 3 min better time, in worse conditions, and on a course that slowly goes uphill the whole time (because you are running upstream…) So really, this makes me excited to do the Turkey Trot again, and see how I can improve even more! And the bigger victory is that I did the race – I wrote about it 2 years ago, here, and that time I did 3.1 going the other direction, downhill, and that took more than 45 minutes. (I would’ve done the race in 2012, but we weren’t up there for the holiday that year.)

The next one on deck is the Beach 2 Beacon. I am already stressing about the heat, but I know I can finish it, even if I’m dragging. I’m just hoping for rain.

Apr 27, 2013 - fitness    No Comments

Erin’s Run 5k

My 5th 5k was Erin’s Run, right here in Bangor.

When this first came about, Emilie at One Mom in Maine shared the page on Facebook and I liked it, because an April 5k seemed like a good idea. As a fan of the page, I learned more about Erin Woolley, for whom the race is named. (And now, because Emilie is an English teacher I’m getting worried about my ‘whom’ use, but I can’t think too hard.) I remember reading some posts about Erin on One Mom in Maine, and it seemed like such a sad story, but so many are, right? As a fan of the Facebook page, though, someone was posting photos of Erin as a little girl, and being someone raising two little girls in Bangor, and seeing hints of places I know well (I feel like the backdrop was the West side, where we live, but maybe I was seeing things) it just made it even harder to imagine. When registration opened, I registered, because god, how could I not? It was a cheap price to pay to make someone like Erin – who I never knew – an unforgotten name. The race was secondary.

I had assumed the course would be like Komen, but they actually plotted a route that stuck to the river side of Main street. Having never run there, I met my friend Diana to do a lap and see how it was. (And then I learned that Diana is pregnant, so she OBVIOUSLY got to set the pace, so we did more walking and talking/squeeing than running but that was A-OKAY. Babies!) But seeing the parts I’d never run before was reassuring, and I had planned to run more later that day, but didn’t get to. And I didn’t get any more outside running this week because of the weather, and honestly, I really dragged myself to the gym to hit the treadmill and just did some Train Like a Mother interval workouts, and never even hit 3 miles while I was there. (And I haaaaate the treadmill, so I was literally running and trying to imagine the 5k route “Now I’m going by Tim Horton’s, now I’m going by Shaw’s, the turn is right up ahead” to get me through.) And on Friday night, it was the first summery evening of 2013 and by god, I wanted pizza and beer.

So, I went into the run without as many miles as I wanted under my belt, BUT with beer and pizza under my belt. Whatever, it was for a good cause and it was a BEAUTIFUL day, nothing to lose. I had picked up my race packet the night before, and all of the marketing made me think that purple must have been her favorite color, so I pulled out the Team Sparkle skirt to wear (and then my girls wanted to wear purple skirts, too.) We heard more about Erin at the start line, and when we took off, I was feeling good, and also feeling really emotional. My girls were going to be waiting for me in purple skirts at the end, how screwed up is it that someone else’s daughter’s death is the reason for this whole gorgeous race? One of the quotes of Erin’s at the pre-start speech was about how her body had so much to still do in life (I’m totally paraphrasing) and all I could think was how lucky I was that I got to DO this. So, I decided to run the whole first mile. I’m a huge fan of intervals and have honestly never run a whole mile, without stopping, ever. I ignored my preplanned intervals and just went for it, and was SO PROUD that I did it (and happy for the walk break.) The route was one big loop, and then one smaller loop, so I knew which parts I’d be repeating. At the start of the second loop, walkers were finishing, and there was a water stop for anyone, so I took advantage, since my mouth was dry from the gum I’d found to chew (not my usual) so that was nice. When I turned down Railroad, I knew Dave and the girls would be waiting for me, and rounding the corner to the finish line, I heard them. “MAMA! MAMMMMA!” they had water for me for when I finished (but of course I hadn’t finished yet!) so I felt like kind of a jerk for just zipping by them. As soon as I got through the chute I doubled back and was so excited to see my family. Dave had packed water for me, since the Freaky5k had not had water at the end, and that was really sweet. We took a pic (after cajoling Willa into it) and then we headed home where I took a great shower and we got ready for the rest of our day. (I have to say, the organization of this race was AMAZING, from the day before packet pickup, the water stops, the portapotties and they even had a bag check, which I didn’t use, but that was a great accommodation! For an inaugural event, it was great.)


Now for the stats!

I PR’ed! My Garmin time was 39:03 and my race time was 39:16 (it was NOT chip timed, so I’m really proud of the Garmin time, but the race time is a PR, too!) And my Garmin tracks records, and I ran my fastest mile with that first one, of 11:14. So proud of that. And the race raised 12,000 dollars and the DV shelter that was benefitting is naming their legal program after her, which is just awesome.


I watched a news story at the end, and realized that the woman who stopped me before the race to comment on my skirt was Erin’s mother. I wish I’d known that. Or maybe not. I can’t help but feel like this is a race for mothers – to make sure Erin’s mom sees that people are still learning about her daughter, for me to show my daughters that athletes come in all shapes, for my friend to be doing a 5k carrying her first baby (a daughter? who knows) from the start line to the finish line. So, Erin’s mom, as a mother of bright and beautiful Bangor daughters, I am so sorry that yours is not here.  We wore our purple for yours, and we will be there again, next year.

Apr 16, 2013 - fitness, life    No Comments


Yesterday, my friend and I took our afternoon walk and when I came back, I was scrolling through my twitter stream and saw the first mention of “the tragedy in Boston.” I thought it was probably one of those situations where a runner dies of a heart attack on the course, but as I kept scrolling, I saw that it was much bigger than that. I told my intern, and we both huddled over a live video feed for a while, trying to understand what was going on.

Whenever a tragedy like this happens, it is human nature to personalize it. When I was a kid, going to Boston for April vacation happened quite often. It’s a great time to go — springy temps, the Red Sox are playing by then, and the hotel we always stayed at is on Beacon Street in Brookline, and we could see the racers go by. I could picture what that day looks and feels like, and even on our walk just before, my friend and I were marveling that spring seemed to have (finally!) shown up.

But since I’ve started running, I have a new way to personalize it, to try to imagine what kind of awfulness that would be. I have NO plans to ever run Boston, or a marathon, but even my slow-as-hell 5ks are the result of working toward a goal and challenging myself, and the finish line is a place of joy, and nothing else. When I read that the boy killed had just hugged his dad at the finish line and walked back to his mom and sisters, that just makes my heart hurt. One of my favorite memories of the last Freaky 5k was that Ingrid ran with me at the end, and I cannot, I cannot even begin to imagine the terror of finishing Boston, or any race, and having your family blown.up. Horrifying.

When Newtown happened, I had similar feelings — I KNOW what a 1st grade classroom is like, I know what a first grader is like —  I have one. I know that 1st grade is a place of joy, that kids still love going to school in first grade, that they are wicked excited for Christmas by mid December, and the shooting there happened, it was too easy to imagine what it would look and feel like in the moments before. Same with this one, a finish line is a happy, happy place. When these acts happen in places that are  just pure and joyful, it is heartbreaking.

And for all the runners who worked so hard, for so long, to have a perfect day for a marathon marred by this, I hope your next finish line is a joyful one.

Nov 19, 2012 - fitness    No Comments

Turkey Trot!

My 4th race was the Turkey Trot, in Brewer. I have heard good things about this one, but this was my first time doing it. One of my friends has been running and had never done a race before, so I conned her into encouraged her to do this one. We made plans weeks ago, and I registered, and when I saw her on Wednesday and said “are you all set for Sunday!?” she confessed she had not registered yet. After some research, we learned that that didn’t matter, so she didn’t have any excuses left — the weather was great, and her husband was going to run with her, too. Plus, I pulled out my phone and showed her all of my data that proved that she was going to TOTALLY smoke me so she shouldn’t be nervous about her place in the pack at ALL.

They picked me up (and dropped off their daughter for a playdate at our house) and we got there with plenty of time to register. We got there about 12:15 and they were registered and bibbed by 12:30 I think, and that was with coming in the wrong door and so totally missing the organizers and entry table completely. We saw several other people we knew, and the weather was PERFECT for a race. This isn’t a 5k, but a straight 3 miler, that is mostly flat with a hill in the middle. The race started and I veered left and just put in my 5k workout (intervals of 8 minutes running and 3 walking) and set my music to shuffle. (I hate that it seemed to pick way too mellow music though – I should make a playlist of the faster stuff to shuffle for things like this.) I started too fast (this is why I want a Garmin, I just don’t know how fast I am going at any given time because my phone doesn’t track well if I hold it, and I don’t LIKE holding it, so I only get pace updates for my intervals) so my shins hurt, but oh well. I did run up most of the hill, and I ran through parts of my walking sets, and just  enjoyed myself. One thing I like about races (and I liked about doing the Freaky 5k 2 years in a row) is that the first one gives me a benchmark to beat the next year. My final time was 39:27! And my friends? As I told her, she DID smoke me, by about 7 minutes! And got that First Race done and (I think) had a good experience. We didn’t stick around for the raffles, so if they drew my name and I could’ve won many hundreds of dollars, please don’t tell me so. (I HAD to get home because we had tickets to a show an hour later.)

  • This was my first out and back course, which was kind of neat. I would never, ever see the powerful runners if not for an out and back, and sure, having the winner sail by my in the other direction before I hit mile 1 is kind of crazy, but so impressive! And it was great to see all the people I knew.
  • They had students (it was a fundraiser for the high school) at mile 1 and mile 2 calling out the time, which was so cool. In the absence of a Garmin, I appreciated that. And there was some guy with a smartphone between mile 2 and the end calling times, too, just on his own.
  • I wore my Team Sparkle skirt again, and got several comments AND got recognized by another friend just because I was wearing it. I think I might make it a habit. I wore it to be the distraction for my nervous friend, and also it makes me feel less angst about running in tights. Also, it makes me faster. Pretty sure.
  • The weather was perfect. Bluebird sky, windless, cool and crisp at about 40 degrees.
Oct 27, 2012 - fitness    No Comments

2012 Freaky 5k!

TL;DR: I made my goal, I won a prize, I had a great day.

Today was the Freaky 5k, sponsored by Hardy Girls, Healthy Women. This was my second year running it, and I was very excited to see how I would compare to last year. I’ve been running more this summer and fall, and wondered how it would translate when it came to this race, and then this week I was fighting a bug and my usual 3.25 runs were more like 2.3 because I just couldn’t get around that last mile loop. I joked to myself that I was just “tapering.”

The weather today was supposed to be (and ended up being) gorgeous, but for the race it was foggy and damp. This year, I took the whole family – I really wanted my girls to see their mom doing something like this, and the mission of HGHW is one that is kind of all about that, so it was a great race to bring them to. It also helped that our friend Tami was running it, and her husband is Dave’s best friend dating back to 8th grade, and those guys got to hang out while we ran and swap homebrew when we were done, and that definitely made it easier for everyone. (The company. Not the homebrew.) There was no chip timing this year (I think there was last year?) so I was extra nervous about meeting my goal of a sub 40 minute time. Which is a slow goal for many runners, but that’s what I like about running. It’s MY race, MY goals, and I get to set the bar wherever I want. Last year, my time was 43:22, and I really thought I could make it this year.

I set my app to do intervals of 8 minutes running and 3 minutes walking.  Last year, the race was set up differently and there was a little walk from the registration area to the start, so I was counting on that to be my warmup walk, like I do when I go running in the morning, but this time you registered right AT the start line so I didn’t get that. I went too fast, probably, to start, and it’s all downhill so my shins were hurting a bit, but I made it through that interval, and felt good. I was passing and being passed by a pair of M&Ms (lots of people in costume!) but mostly I was on my own.  I eventually left the M&Ms behind for good, and then the next person I passed was a woman who was younger, thinner, and looked more “runnerly” than I ever have. She would run and then walk and then she’d hear me clomping away behind her and turn around and I could pretty much read her thoughts “oh shit, SHE is going to pass me?” But I did, and for good, in the last mile.

Because I did the same race last year, I also knew what to expect on the course. Last year, there was this great spot just before the giant hill that you end on where several kids soccer matches were happening, and kids lined up on the sidewalk to high five runners. I was so hoping they’d be there again, because it was such a lift for me last year, and sure enough, they were. And in fact, my app told me it was time to walk, but I was NOT going to WALK through the high fivers, so I ended up running more like 10:30 or 11 minutes in order to save face with them (so I probably owe my sub-40 to them) but it was just so great. And I figured I’d make up the walking time on the hill at the end.

And I did. The hill is just so steep, and it’s where it ENDS, so I just want to be done, and I wanted to run into the finish. So I walked the first half, and near the top I saw a man standing and that was my point where I’d start to run, and as I crested the hill, Tami, who’d finished several minutes earlier, jogged down with Ingrid so that Ingrid could run with me for a little bit. When I saw the clock, though, and knew my time was in reach, I kind of left Ingrid in the dust and just pushed through. I never know where the time ENDS, so I ran through the whole roped off area just in case (and learned later that it ends right at the clock.) It took me a minute to catch my breath, and unlike last year there was no water or anything available there, but once I had cooled down for a minute we went and waited for Diana and her sister (who was running it the first time) and we cheered them in, too.

 After they were in, we headed back to the registration area in search of water (I think the logistics were better last year, all around, the tables for the end of the race were hard to find, and I think that’s why no one was there. Unless they announced it before the race, but because of the acoustics and sound system, no one could hear anything, so I don’t know…) and then it came up that official times were being posted, so Tami went up and got hers and I went to check mine, and when I gave my name, the organizer said “OH! Wait! You won an award!” Now, I knew it wasn’t for my time, or my costume, but I couldn’t imagine how my fundraising could be award-worthy, I only raised $261… but apparently I was number 1! On the FirstGiving site, there were others ahead of me, but they are all affiliated with HGHW or something, so they weren’t in the running for awards. I had no idea! So I won a gift certificate for a massage and a gift card to a brewhouse in Waterville. Um, okay! That was a total surprise. ANd if you look at my finish line photo, you can see the sparkle skirt I ran in, which is what I challenged my sponsors with – if I hit $250, I would run in a sparkly skirt. Purple won for the color.

The other thing that made this race so great, was that this was a much more challenging course than I usually run. I pulled it up on Runkeeper, though, and was confused — it actually looked easier than my neighborhood run, which I KNOW is easier. Then I realized that Runkeeper doesn’t scale the elevation graph, or even provide a number to show the scale. If you trace the line with your mouse, it will give you details, but it doesn’t show scale. Which is huge. I have spent a good 30-40 minutes finding a site that would show the elevations on the same scale, and you can see the difference below:

And here’s my neighborhood run. See how intense Runkeeper makes it look? But on the same scale as the Freaky5k, you can see just how flat it is. Which just lends credibility to that last hill of the Freaky 5k. It is steeeeeep. And long. And I made it. Also, above, if you look at the pace line on the bottom graph, you can totally see where those soccer girls pushed me to run for longer than I *ever* have before.  Thanks, girls.

So, today, I am pretty proud of this PR. And I’m glad that I could show my girls why I run, since they see me leave (on Sundays) and know I leave (on weekdays, they just aren’t up yet) and they can now get a better idea of why I do it, and what it means to run your own race.

ETA, months later: I never put in my time! I finished in 39:47. On the official race results page, they messed it up and have me as the next finisher, but I saw the clock myself and KNOW that this pic is accurate:


Oct 19, 2012 - fitness    No Comments

A bunch of things.

I’ll start with running:

My employer is sponsoring gym memberships at a local gym, so I signed up and started two weeks ago. I’m loving it! I’m doing the body pump class, and this week I took one of my three hours of personal training to get the specific tour of the gym and the trainer also set me up with a basic weight machine workout. This was huge — having someone explain every machine, show me how to set it, and then having her show me the three weight rooms (there’s a big free-weight room, an intermediate machines room and a beginner machine room) was great. I love that there’s a beginner room, and I truly wouldn’t have realized that without the trainer showing me everything. I decided to do my Thursday run at the gym, to conquer my fear of treadmills.

Running outside is intimidating, for sure, especially as an overweight beginner. But for ME, it’s much less intimidating than a treadmill. For one, outside, if I’m running, I’m doing more than a lot of other people I see out there doing! The people I see are about 1% runners and 99% people driving to work, walking their dog, milling about in their house getting ready for the day. So if they even SEE me, I am not embarrassed because I am doing more than most. If a car passes me, in that 30 seconds they see me, they see me either running or walking, never collapsing, so they don’t know or care what it is I’m doing. But a treadmill in a gym — everyone there IS working out and many are probably much fitter than me, and it’s just a different vibe. But that isn’t even my biggest issue with treadmills — mine is that I am terrified of ending up in a YouTube montage of Treadmill Fails. (I’ve seen too much AFV.) So, Thursday morning was clear and cold, and would’ve been great for an outside run, but I decided to go do it at the gym (and I had to sign up for Body Pump on Saturday anyway.)

First: I totally survived, as did all of the nearby drywall. But god, was it boring. Pros of the treadmill: climate controlled, much softer than asphalt, easy to stay at my desired pace because you just HAVE to. Cons of the treadmill: HOT and boring. So much easier to just stop running — when I go outside, if I quit halfway through, well, I can’t because if I quit halfway through, I’m still 1.5 miles from my house. On the treadmill, whenever I stop, I’m just as close to home as I was when I started. Which makes me want to stop. And I was!! And sweaty. Outside, I get warm, but the air and all doesn’t make me feel gross. So, I will continue to run outside for as long as possible, but I now know that I can use the treadmill when I need to. Ice, REALLY cold, etc.

Oh, and when I was visiting my parents, I went for an hour run (left, told my mom to come find me in an hour) and in that time I covered 4.5 miles! Which is pretty good, seeing as how I ran more in the first 3.1 and then did more walking after I did that.

But! Look at that! I did my 3.1 in 39.22. A year ago, I did that same route in 45:15. (And honestly, one of those routes is wrong, because in the other app I’d used, 3.1 ended exactly at a camp driveway, and so this time when I pulled out my phone to do a screen grab, it sent me another .3 up the road, past that driveway, before it said 3.1. So I think I went even FASTER than 39:22 but I’m slave to the screenshot.)

And lastly, a moment of “Oh my god, I am That Woman.”

The other day, I was headed to get Ingrid or something — it was at the end of the day, and at the intersection near my house there is a big power company transformer box. Green, locked, hedges around it, etc. So I get to the stop sign, and see two 9 or 10 year old boys who have dropped their bikes next to it, and and clearly trying to figure out how to open it. (They are not bright boys — the hedges flank it, they don’t provide a good place to hide.) SO, I laid on the horn. Which scared the crap out of them (better than live wattage, I figure) and when they look at me, I literally wagged my finger and mouthed “NO. NOT SAFE!” Yes, from my MINIVAN. and they sort of slunk down and grabbed their bikes and went the other way.

I am That Mom. Whoa.